Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Reading Rainbow: The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey

It might be most instructive to preface this piece with the fact that I started reading this book when The Hangover Part II was early in its theatrical run. I finished it about a week ago. That means it took about eight months to finish this book off.

The Monkey Wrench Gang made me want to read other books in its stead. Given the fact that this book is about righteous eco-terrorism and that the statement is coming from someone who aligns himself pretty far on the left side of the political spectrum (not that I would ever condone terrorism in any form*), this is relatively damning.

*Read: no need to put this guy on a watch list, Powers That Be.

Moreover, I fucking love the American West. My notion of the deserts of the Southwest is as romanticized as possible.

Yet even with the proper predisposition heading into the book, The Monkey Wrench Gang never hit the right note for me. Abbey's prose struck me as tedious, and his endless poetic waxing on the desert rather quickly became masturbatory more than anything else. By the time I hit page 300, the only thing keeping me going was the fact that seven months was too long to halfheartedly invest in a book to punt it.

The easiest way for me to describe my reaction to the book while I was reading it was that it felt like I was reading Pynchon if you took the enjoyment out of it.

To any Abbey fans out there, please feel free to defend him, but this whole enterprise struck me as naively idealistic. I suppose that is the reading that I would tend to take when reading anyone who claims to be an anarchist though.

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